Sometime in late October, tight end probably wouldn’t have seemed like a big “need” position for the Redskins. With Jordan Reed beginning to emerge as an elite TE receiving threat, Logan Paulsen as a solid all-around player, and Fred Davis as a quality option who just seemed to be in the Shanaclan dog house, Washington’s tight end requirement appeared to be filled quite nicely.
A lot has changed since late October.
Davis’ struggles are well-documented, and we may never see him take the field for an NFL team again. Reed missed the last six games of the year after a concussion from which he couldn’t recover, and, particularly with the emphasis now placed on such injuries, the Redskins would be wise to get an “insurance policy” in the 2014 NFL Draft.
I think we’ll see that happen. And tight end is usually a good “value” position in the draft, meaning that it’s very likely that the Redskins could get a top 10 player if they prioritize tight end come May.
Here’s a look at the top ten tight end prospects available:
1. Eric Ebron (UNC):
The consensus #1 tight end in the draft is the 6’4″, 245-pound Ebron, who is also the only tight end considered to be a lock first-round selection. A great pass-catching TE, Ebron broke the ACC record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season, finishing with 973, as well as posting several school records. Conventional wisdom here is that he’ll probably add a little size at the next level and become a bona fide receiving threat in the NFL, getting plenty of mis-matches against smaller defenders.
2. Jace Amaro (Texas Tech):
Perhaps not quite the athlete that Ebron is, but just as fast (4.67) and even bigger (6’5″, 260 lbs.), with even more impressive stats. Amaro broke the NCAA record for receiving yards by a TE, tallying 1,352 this season. Despite his size, he is obviously more of a pass-catcher who may not work well in all NFL schemes, but who could be a great asset in the right system. Amaro may fall to the second round, but he seems like he would be a great fit for New England, who would take him in the first.
3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington):
Despite his size (6’6″, 276 pounds), Seferian-Jenkins can more than hold his own as a pass-catcher. He was already the UW career record-holder for receptions and yardage by a tight end before this season even began. The DUI suspension he earned this past year will come up during pre-draft chatter, but all outward appearances are that it was not part of a pattern, and that his contrition was sincere. It may hurt his stock a bit, but I don’t think it’s cause for any major concern. Seferian-Jenkins will be a solid pick for someone in the second round.
4. Troy Niklas (Notre Dame):
More of a “traditional” tight end, but with a frame built for the 21st century, Niklas is an effective blocker who can also get open and exploit mismatches in the passing game thanks to his size (6’6″, 270 lbs.). He recorded 498 yards and five touchdowns on 32 catches for the Fighting Irish this year. He will be a good pickup for someone in the second round, or a steal in the third round.
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa):
Fiedorowicz will probably be used primarily as a blocker at the NFL level, checking in at 6’6″ and 262 pounds with 4.79 speed, but he’ll also be a nice red-zone receiving threat. He caught only 23 passes this past season at Iowa, but five of those were touchdowns. He’ll likely be taken in the late third or early fourth round.
6. Arthur Lynch (Georgia):
A very good blocker for the Bulldogs, Lynch will operate best in a system that uses him in protection or setting the edge for a running back. He’s got speed in the 4.8-range and is 6’5″, 258 pounds. Lynch was only tied for fourth on Georgia’s receiving chart with 30 catches last season. He’ll wind up going in the fourth round or so, and probably isn’t the kind of player Washington would be looking for as a potential replacement for Reed.
7. Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State):
An All-MWC selection who is somewhat similar to Lynch, the 6’6″, 260-pound Gillmore has a 40 time of 4.89. He was utilized slightly more in the passing game, hauling in 47 balls for 577 yards in 14 games. He projects as a fourth-round pick at best, possibly falling to the fifth.
8. Marcel Jensen (Fresno State):
Jensen seems to be cut from the same cloth as the two players ahead of him on this list: 6’6″, 259 pounds, a 40 time in the 4.8s. The consensus on Jensen is that he has good physical tools, but his technique will have to improve in order for him to have a career at the NFL level. He’s probably a fifth-rounder.
9. Joe Don Duncan (Dixie State):
A player named “Joe Don” from a college called “Dixie State” sounds fictional, but Duncan is a very real prospect who put up great numbers, albeit against lower-level competition. Duncan led Dixie State with 71 catches, 1,045 yards, and 13 touchdowns in ten games. There are naturally questions about whether a D-II player will be able to transition well to the NFL, but Duncan should be gone by the end of the sixth round.
10. Rob Blanchflower (Umass):
Blanchflower battled injury (a sports hernia, to be exact) to catch 27 balls for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a 2013 season that, for him, was a mere six games. Blanchflower is 6’4″, 256 pounds, and his stock would be higher were it not for the injury problems. As it is, he’ll probably be taken in the sixth round.
I’m confident that the Redskins will draft a tight end at some point, but the question is whether they think it’s important enough to snag one before the later rounds. If they do, it’s quite possible they’ll grab a tight end from one of the bottom seven spots above (and Richard Rodgers and Jacob Pedersen aren’t far behind this group).
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